Toronto FC has found its new starting goalkeeper.
The club announced on Tuesday that it had signed Sean Johnson using Targeted Allocation Money. The former New York City FC shot-stopper has joined the club on a two-year contract.
“Sean is among the top goalkeepers in MLS, and we are thrilled he has chosen Toronto FC as his new club,” said Toronto FC President Bill Manning.
“Sean is a true leader on and off the field, and his experience, winning mentality and shot blocking ability will help us solidify our defence.”
Johnson, a free agent following the 2022 Major League Soccer season, took his time to weigh his options but in the end has opted for a new challenge north of the border.
New journey begins! Excited to join @TorontoFC See you soon Toronto #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/lwglRtiAWW— Sean Johnson (@SeanJohnGK) January 27, 2023
MLS insider Tom Bogert reported two weeks ago that Johnson was still deciding between TFC and NYCFC, with outside interest from Belgium.
Speculation increased on Monday amid reports that New York City is interested in trading for Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Matt Freese.
Johnson is currently with the United States National Team in California where Bob Bradley’s squad is also currently conducting preseason training.
“Sean has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in MLS, given his club and international career,” said Bradley.
“Sean continues to demonstrate his elite shot-stopping ability, athleticism, and decision-making in important moments and the biggest games.”
With Alex Bono and Quentin Westberg both departing Toronto following the 2022 MLS season, Toronto has undeniably been in the market for a new starting goalie. Bradley had previously signalled that addressing the position has been top priority for the club ahead of the new campaign.
“As everyone knows, we’ve been working hard to try to finalize the No. 1 slot with somebody that we think gives us just the right combination of abilities and experience to really help us,” said Bradley last Tuesday.
Johnson will be plying his trade outside of the States for the first time in his career once he suits up for TFC. The Lilburn, Georgia native was drafted by Chicago Fire in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. He spent seven seasons in Chicago before being dealt away by the club in December 2016.
With 370 games under his belt, Johnson is 23rd all-time in MLS appearances and will bring tons of experience between the sticks for a club that has already added veterans Matt Hedges and Victor Vazquez this offseason.
The 33-year-old is an MLS Cup champion, having lifted the trophy with NYCFC after a dramatic penalty shootout in MLS Cup 2021. Johnson was named MLS Cup MVP after stopping two shots from the spot.
Last season, the 6’2” keeper had 14 regular season clean sheets, second behind only Andre Blake. Johnson started in every MLS match for a New York City side which finished third in the Eastern Conference standings, and made it to the Conference Finals. He was awarded for his regular season efforts by being named as an MLS All-Star in 2022.
Johnson has appeared in 10 matches for the United States national team and was named to Gregg Berhalter’s 2022 World Cup squad, though he did not make an appearance in Qatar.